It is now the middle of spring and my persimmon and fig trees, once devoid of leaves, are now spouting numerous new fruit buds and new tender leaves. It was just a few months earlier that each tree was heavy laden with a bumper crop of fruit. Now, after only a few months of the dormancy of winter, the cycle begins again.
From single cell bacteria, to insects, to plants, to the largest mammal, the blue whale, we observe that all living creatures devote a tremendous amount of resources preparing for the next generation. With humans, it can proceed a further step. We spend an extended period of time nurturing the next generation, not only for own children, but often for others.
I have the privilege to work with a young man who will be beginning medical school this fall. After working with him for four years, through college and his gap years, I wrote him a letter of recommendation included as part of his medical school applications. Recently, he stopped by my office to reconnect before he leaves for vacation and medical school. As he was about to leave, I handed him an envelope and embraced him. “This is the letter of recommendation I wrote for you.” As he accepted the letter, I said, “You will be a great physician! I will pray for you. Stay in touch!” A few hours later, I received a text message from him.
“Thank you! Your last line brought tears to my eyes!”
I replied to his text, “You are welcome! It is my sincere desire you will be able to do the same for another student some day.”
He texted back, “I hope to do that!”
Our lives can be much richer than we can ever imagine when we invest our time and resources into the lives of others. From Moses grooming his successor Joshua, to the Apostle Paul and his protege Timothy, to the Apostle Peter and his adopted son, John Mark, the Bible is replete with touching examples of leaders deliberately overseeing the spiritual growth and development of the next generation.
I am thankful for the many mentors, pastors, and teachers in my spiritual life who took the time to put me on a straight path to God. I especially admire the many godly young men and women whom I have met, who are mentoring their peers or children younger than they are. They are the foundation and future of our next generation of spiritual leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ.
…But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:24-27 (ESV)
Our lives are much more than our own existence. We are a part of the living Church, the Body of Jesus Christ. God’s Creation reminds us that we should all be committed to devoting as much of our own resources and time to nurture the next generation. The last line of my letter to my friend, the medical student, was this: “I sincerely hope that I will be able to work with him in the future, either as a colleague or a mentor.”
I am grateful to God for blessing my life with an opportunity to work with the next generations. By God’s mercy and grace, they will continue to mentor successive generations.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.